In this month’s episode, “Booming Aviation, Engineering and Management Job Markets: How Vaughn is Answering the Call,” Dr. Sharon B. DeVivo, president of Vaughn College and host of the podcast, Futureproof Focus, sat down with her colleague, Chaundra Daniels, director of career services, for an enlightening discussion about the booming job market in aviation, engineering and management, and how Vaughn is preparing its students to gain the competitive edge for landing positions in these in-demand fields
Daniels setting the pace for student success
With less than one year in her position as Vaughn’s director of career services, Daniels has brought a fresh perspective to the department by implementing innovative programs that are changing the face of student/employee relations. For more than 20 years, she has devoted her career to helping others develop their professional paths and employer relations skills. “Vaughn is the place to be,” said Daniels. “My passion is helping students find their passion and dream job.”
How Vaughn’s degree programs are fueling the job market
Dr. DeVivo opened the discussion by stating how Vaughn prepares its students for some of today’s most in-demand jobs. With hiring at record-setting levels in the fields of aerospace, aviation and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), she emphasized how Vaughn graduates have acquired the skills and are well-positioned to land careers in these booming job markets.
Daniels was excited to report that jobs in these fields are “pouring in.” “There is no shortage of jobs in our industry,” she said. “Employers are seeking out our students, knowing the value and credentials a Vaughn student brings to their company. This is the opportune time to be a Vaughn student.” She further stated that Boeing just recently hired four of the College’s students. Daniels emphasized how—in addition to the job openings in the aforementioned fields—aviation maintenance technician jobs are also a crucial position being actively recruited now. “These technicians work behind the scenes to ensure the airplanes are safe to fly. Jobs like these—and others—are available across the board.”
Preparing students for success
Daniels was proud to say that Vaughn students are career-driven. “They know why they are here and what career they want for their future,” she said. And the College’s career services department is the hub where it all begins. “It’s important to engage with students early on—in their freshmen and sophomore years,” she said. “By working with them early, we can help them address any of their fears and sharpen their communication and networking skills.” Daniels explained the importance of meeting students where they are. “We want them to feel comfortable being able to present themselves and their skillset.” She went on to say that the career services department works with students to achieve these goals by offering an open-door policy that is designed around their schedules. This way, students can receive help with résumé development and interview preparation, among other career support tasks.
Making connections with Vaughn’s programs and partnerships
Preparing students for success is only one part of Vaughn’s mission. Helping them make the right connections to land their dream jobs is what Daniels does best. Employer Engagement Days—a program which she spearheaded—and other partnerships are helping Vaughn students land internships and jobs in their fields.
Employer Engagement Days
Last spring, Daniels kicked off Employer Engagement Days as a new initiative to streamline the employer engagement process for Vaughn students and industry leaders who are looking to hire. She explained how work is about building relationships and that these one-on-one meetings are proving successful for both employers and students who were seeking a more efficient and convenient way to meet by accommodating the schedules of both parties. “I developed Employer Engagement Days as a way to get employers back on campus after the pandemic,” Daniels said. She explained that the process is more casual and less stressful, thus allowing representatives from corporations to interview students on an individual basis—without the pressure and time constraints of traditional large networking events and career fairs. Employer Engagement Days helps to level the playing field, as it removes the competition and gives both the student and employer the time needed to determine if they are a good fit for each other.
JetBlue’s ‘University Gateway’ Pilot Pathway Program
Last summer, Vaughn partnered with JetBlue Airways as part of the airlines’ University Gateway Pilot Pathway Program. This groundbreaking, first-of-its-kind program allows aircraft operations students who attend Aviation Accreditation Board International (AABI) accredited institutions—such as Vaughn—to apply and interview for positions at JetBlue as they completed their college courses. You can check out the JetBlue University Gateway program requirements on the website.
LaGuardia Gateway Partners
Earlier this year, LaGuardia Gateway Partners approached Vaughn to set up an internship program where students could gain experience in the industry. “Early onset industry experience is so important,” Daniels stated. “Internship programs such as this is just another way Vaughn prepares its students and offers them opportunities for a successful future.”
Professional Development Workshop Series
Daniels is passionate about helping students build the confidence and resilience they need to present themselves in the best possible light and articulate who they are. Here are some of the ways in which career services helps students to achieve these goals:
- Industry résumé building
- Effective interviewing
- Networking and conferences
Dr. DeVivo added that the student experience offered at Vaughn sets the College apart from other institutions. “We support our students emotionally, financially and socially,” she said. “These programs and conferences are great pathways to their careers.”
The industry’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion
Dr. DeVivo stated that over the last several years, Vaughn has seen companies commit to hiring individuals from diverse backgrounds. Daniels replied that it isn’t as much about how employees are meeting diversity as we know it, but it should be regarded rather as a “diversity of thought.” She explained that—from a humanity perspective—it’s all about hiring the best person for the job. “Diversity is not easy,” Daniels said. “It’s a communication and personality issue. If employers seek candidates based on what they bring to the table—their unique talents—they’ll win every time.”
Dr. DeVivo’s tip of the month
Dr. DeVivo concluded the conversation with a wrap-up tip of the month: “The key to landing a great career is seizing opportunities early by establishing relationships with employers as part of your educational journey.”
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